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The 4 things you must include in a content proposal

By August 9, 2021 4 Comments

We’ve all heard that content is king. Nearly every business has a website (especially now) and in order to be found online, many companies are looking for freelance writers to create content for them. This might mean writing blog posts, newsletters, case studies and the like. Often freelance writers will be asked to put together a content proposal for a client. So, what is a content proposal and what do you need to put in one to ensure you have the best chance of landing a content writing gig?

What freelance writers should include in a content proposal

Content proposals for freelance writers

At its core, a content proposal is a document that outlines what the client wants and how you (the freelance writer) will deliver it.

When I first started out as a freelance writer I found that after an initial phone call with a potential client, writing a proposal could still take a fair bit of time, even if it was just a one page services proposal.

I spent a lot of time looking for content proposal samples, but never found anything that was perfect.

I bought a few different content proposal templates and over time I tweaked, added and adjusted them to fit my needs.

Before you write your proposal …

Before you start your content proposal, you need to wrestle with one of the trickiest questions that freelance writers get asked: What’s your rate?

If you can, steer away from hourly rates.

I know of too many instances where writers are told their hourly rate is too high only for the same writer to translate that into a per blog rate.

What happens? The client doesn’t bat an eyelid!

Kate Toon has an excellent resource for copywriters wondering how much they should charge, but I’ve found that most mid-level freelance writers charge between $75 – $110/hour.

This doesn’t mean that you quote that rate to the client, but it helps you work out what your overall rate per project will be.

First work out how long the content will take you to write (building in a contingency per cent just in case).

Then multiply that by your hourly rate and quote that as your overall rate (specifying how many words or a range of words).

I know that’s quite a lot of information, so to make it a bit clearer here’s a real life example:

A few years ago I was ghostwriting 400- 500 word blog posts for a corporate client (who found me on LinkedIn).

I charged him $280+GST.

The client initially thought this was pretty high and I felt it was on the low side!

But this client ran a small business so he wanted to ensure that it was a worthwhile investment.

This is key.

The value is not necessarily in the dollar (or pound or krona or Euro) amount, but how you communicate the value of your content.

4 items that must be in your content proposal

In explaining the value your writing can bring, you need to include these 4 things in your content proposals.

1. The client’s problem or focus and how your content will ‘solve’ or address their problem.

For example, the client wants to rank more highly on Google and raise customer awareness of their product or service. Therefore they want a rewrite of their website.

2. The scope of the services they want

For example, the client wants you to rewrite existing content for their home page and their ‘about’ page including long-tail keywords, tags and meta descriptions. Here you include things like how many interviews, research required, how many rounds of edits, if any social media snippets are included and so on.

3. The cost

This is where you provide a quote/your rate (ideally a flat fee) for the different offers you have. Some writers like to include a discount for ongoing work or more than 5 articles.

4. Timeline

How you will move forward if they agree to your quote. Be sure to include your payment terms.

Pssst If you’re struggling with what to include in your content proposal or frustrated at proposals that never get picked up, check out my templates and training below 👇

Content proposals for freelance writers

Things to consider

Think about whether you’ll write SEO optimised content (e.g. you could ask the client for the keywords that they want to rank for in Google) and if you’ll include hyperlinks to high authority sites.

If you think your rate will be knocked back you can always present a proposal with a more expensive option and a cheaper second option where you cut out some of the offerings (such as interviews or social media snippets).

I also offer clients a ‘block’ of blog articles, so that they can purchase 5 blogs x 500 words at a slightly reduced rate.

You also want to make sure that the person you are talking to is the person who has the ultimate approval.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had conversations with potential clients about the reason why they want to create content.

It’s worth asking about the results clients want to see before you submit your content proposal. Are they aiming to educate their audience, grow a readership, raise awareness, sell more products? Who is their audience? How will they know if the content is having the desired effect?

I’ve found that the clients who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with the content are more likely to be better communicators (hence give you clear briefs) and are likely to stick with you in the long term.

Do you write content proposals? Do you have any other tips for what to include in a proposal for a potential client?

4 Comments

  • Claire says:

    I love how detailed your proposals are. And also the retainer, that’s a good thing. I am out of pocket on a project at the moment as the client has had cash flow problems. If I’d had half up front at least I would have been paid something for it. Strategy is a really important part I think, getting the client to think about the bigger picture and develop a coherent plan, rather than coming up with posts one at a time and finding they don’t really hang together well. A great tip about getting the client to identify exactly what they want the blog post to do as well, that can have a big difference on what is produced.

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Oh Claire, what a pain for you with your client having cash flow problems. I hope they come through with your payments soon.
      I have found that lots of organisations (mostly small businesses) haven’t really thought about what they want the content to do for them and how they will know when it has ‘worked’ – they just feel like they "should" be producing content. But I don’t think there’s any point just throwing words out there and hoping they will have an impact.

  • Domani Madigan says:

    Lindy, this is so helpful; clear, easy to follow advice – thank you! I had done a fair bit of hunting around online for a simple explanation on how to put together a content proposal and am so grateful to have found this post. TFY is my go to!

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